Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam is offering tips to help Floridians make the most of their charitable contributions in advance of Giving Tuesday, which is nationally celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services helps Floridians maximize their donations by providing detailed information on charities registered in Florida.
Floridians should to take the following simple steps when preparing to make a charitable contribution:
1. Check-A-Charity Before Donating
Use the department’s Check-A-Charity tool at FloridaConsumerHelp.com to view a charity’s financial information, how contributions are being spent and current registration status, or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352).
2. Watch out for Scams
Scammers take advantage of people’s generosity by pretending to be a real charity to commit fraud. Frequently, bogus charities will exploit a recent natural disaster or tragedy, such as a hurricane, and promise to use the donations to aid victims. It is also important not to judge a charity solely on its name, as many organizations may use names similar to well-known charities and organizations.
3. Keep Good Records
Always obtain and save a printed copy of a donation or a receipt of the contribution amount. Not all organizations soliciting in the name of benevolence are true charities eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. Ask about the organization’s federal and state eligibility for receiving tax deductible donations. Typically, such donations fall under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).
For more information about individual charities, check out the Check-A-Charity tool.
All charities soliciting within Florida, excluding religious, educational, political and governmental agencies, are required to register and file financial information with the department. If a professional solicitor is requesting a donation on behalf of a charity, the solicitor also must be registered with the department and should be able to provide their registration number.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. The call center is staffed with trained analysts who can respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.